Russia’s Olympic figure-skating hopeful: champion’s mind in a child’s body

Russia has never claimed a single Olympic gold medal in women's figure skating. However, with two years to go until the Sochi winter games, there is plenty of hope that that run will soon end.

­The ladies’ singles is the only skating discipline in which an Olympic gold medal has eluded Russia – a country with a glorious skating tradition.

Adelina Sotnikova is one of the few offering major hope for a long-anticipated ladies’ crown in the sport.
At the age of just 15, Sotnikova has already claimed the Russian domestic title three times, having also won the world junior championships in 2011.

“She has already proved a strong will to win. She's a fighter. And this is something you cannot teach. That's given by God. She is one of those who can compete, and can achieve top results. That's a fact,” says Sotnikova’s coach, Elena Vodorezova.

“I was four when my Mom took me to skating school nearby just to test my capability for skating with professional coaches,” recalls Adelina. “All the kids around started crying when they fell down, but I stood up and kept moving forward step by step. The coaches looked at my mother and said: we strongly recommend that you make her continue. That's how I started figure skating.”

According to the International Skating Union's rankings, Sotnikova is currently the world's number 17, but has plenty of time to fine-tune her skills with her coach.

Every single talent is destined to face tough competition, ups and downs. At the first ever Youth Winter Olympics in Innsbruck back in January, Sotnikova was edged out by her team mate, fellow Russian hopeful, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva.

“Adelina beat Liza at the Russian championships. At Innsbruck the outcome was the opposite,” says Elena Vodorezova. “They always get compared to each other, they compete against each other, and that's OK. It's just like the Evgeny Plyushchenko versus Aleksey Yagudin rivalry, which only gave a boost to Russian men's figure skating. As for the girls, only time will tell who's better. They are both still growing.”

Despite their fierce rivalry and competitive temperaments, the two young skaters get on well.

“We have a good relationship, I would say, we are friends. At the Youth Olympics in Innsbruck we lived together in the same apartment. But when it comes to the ice rink, it gets tough,” says Adelina.

There's still a lot to be done before Adelina Sotnikova fulfills her huge potential, but there’s one essential characteristic she has always had in spades – a champion's mentality.

“I like to take chances! And I always take the risks of doing things which are difficult for me. Sometimes I may not do well during a warm-up, and my coach tells me to leave some complicated elements out of my program. But I always dare to do them. I think to myself: I'm strong, I must prove that I can do it!” she says.

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